If raises were just handed out like the gold stars teachers used, way back in grade school, life would be incredible. You'd sell a series of ads or write an article that's your best yet and bam! Gold star for you.
In reality, that's never how it works. Raises happen when you ask for them.
I got a significant raise when moving from one job to another. After receiving an offer, I asked for a higher salary given my previous experience. They met me in the middle, and that was that.
The first step is figuring out if you should ask for a raise. Here are some questions to ask yourself before going for it.
1. Am I going above and beyond my job?
What grade would you give the quality of your performance? Be real with yourself about whether you're working hard and achieving results that go beyond your goals. If you've taken on more responsibility, just proving you can handle it isn't enough.
If you're not sure about how you've been doing at work, develop quantitative methods to track your progress. Then, schedule a check-in meeting with your supervisor to discuss how you're doing in your role. Getting a raise is dependent on showing your bosses that you're doing amazing work.
2. How has my value increased?
What do you add to your team and company as a whole? Write out the specifics of your contributions. Maybe your sales have increased by a significant percentage. Perhaps you have figured out new, faster way for your team to accomplish their goals.
Your boss cares most about what you're doing for the company. Do some big-picture thinking to see what you've added, and I'm not talking about the jar of free candy on your desk.
3. How much do other people make doing the same job I do?
Where do you fall in the range of what other people with your job are making? You'll have to do some investigating to figure this out.
Compare your salary to what others are making in your role on sites like PayScale. If you're on the low end of that range, bring it up to your supervisor.
4. How much money am I asking for?
After doing some research, decide the amount of compensation you want. You should have a bracket in mind.
If you'd be happy with $70,000, ask for an amount between $65,000 and $75,000. That way, when they counter your initial number with something lower, you'll still hopefully meet in the middle at the salary you want.
5. What's the climate at work right now?
Take the office's pulse. Have there been many changes within the company? Is there a hiring freeze? Were a bunch of people just laid off? These are all important factors to consider since you'll need time on your side.
When asking for a raise, your supervisor might bring up “the budget” as the reason he or she can't give you a bump. It's best to prepare for this type of response and know how you'll handle it.
6. Am I prepared to explain precisely what I want and why?
A game plan is necessary, here. Before even asking for a meeting, you need to break down how you're going to present your ideas.
Double and triple check that you're making a strong case for yourself. If you've done your homework, tracked your progress and evaluated your worth, you should be able to back up your request for a raise.
7. Who am I meeting?
What kind of person is your boss? Maybe he or she is the type that just wants to get to the point, or would rather shoot the sh*t for 15 minutes first.
Consider personality type because you'll need to win him or her over before making any demands. Think about how you're going to keep this meeting as light as possible when it starts. For example, thank your boss for something before you even start talking about performance.
8. What will I do if my boss says no?
Always be prepared for a no.
First, think about all possible “no” answers you can get and the reasoning behind them. For example, your boss could mention the company's budget or disagree with your proposal. Will your boss' refusal determine whether or not you look for other jobs?
9. What am I willing to settle for, other than money?
Maybe your boss is into it, but can only offer a salary on the lower end and won't budge. Will you negotiate for compensation other than money, like stock options or more days off? Consider a change in title, as well.
Chances are good your boss isn't just going to accept the first number you slap down, so think about the smallest salary bump you're comfortable with.
10. How do I want my life to look?
Getting a raise right now will affect what you make later in life. The average annual salary increase is three percent, but if you ask for a $5,000 raise in the middle of the year, you'll be getting more out of that salary bump. Do the math -- it's money, not calculus. It might only seem like a couple hundred dollars difference, but that adds up.
What do you see happening in your life in the next five years? Getting a raise is necessary when you're saving for major purchases in the future, like a car or house, or trying to get rid of student loan debt. Think about what you're going to do with the extra money.
The more prepared you are, the better the conversation will go. Diving in before considering each aspect of getting a raise probably won't end well in your favor.
Take one step at a time and you'll get much more than a gold star.